November 29, 2008 at 8:03 am | Posted in Travel | Leave a comment
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Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

On our second day in Jinan, we visited a Software development park and a solar panel factory. The first was a bit boring – looking at static display boards written entirely in Chinese gets old rather quickly. 

The solar panel factory was interesting, and provided a ray of hope regarding China’s pollution problems. Unfortunately, the “gray matter,” the term that the Chinese use to describe the pollution that settles on everything around here, renders the solar panels ineffective. This is heartbreaking, if you think about it, as the very problem that they are trying to solve is rendering the solution ineffective.

Foreign Exchange

Next up was a visit to Shandong University, UConn’s “sister school” in China. We met with a group of their MBA students to discuss cultural issues and share our experiences. Of interesting note was that each of them had very specific undergraduate degrees. While Americans tend to get degrees in Engineering, English, or other broad topics, they get their degrees in Lighting. Or Air Conditioning. 

There was a bit of a language barrier, so for a few hours we resorted to a crude form of pictionary to communicate. It worked for the most part, and it was amusing to see that regardless of culture, male middle-aged graduate students have essentially four topics of conversation: wives, dogs, sports, and the stock market. That last topic led to a lot of pictures of arrows pointing way down.

One last note: I will never make a disparaging comment about UConn’s facilities again. I’m pretty sure that in America this building would have been condemned.


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